Taiwan hit by biggest earthquake in 25 years

Taiwan hit by biggest earthquake in 25 years
Several buildings were damaged in the Wednesday quake

Officials have confirmed at least seven people have died while rescuers are pulling out people trapped in collapsed buildings.

BBC | Rescue efforts are taking place in Taiwan after a powerful earthquake struck off its east coast on Wednesday, killing at least four people.

The 7.4 magnitude quake caused multiple buildings to collapse in Hualien, the city closest to the epicentre.

The strongest tremor to hit the island in 25 years was also felt as far as Taiwan's mountainous interior, which was rocked by huge landslides.

In the capital Taipei, footage showed buildings shaking violently.

"The earthquake is close to land and it's shallow. It's felt all over Taiwan and offshore islands... It's the strongest in 25 years," said Wu Chien Fu, the director of Taipei's Seismology Centre.

 

The National Fire Agency said three have died at a trail around Taroko National Park, named after a landmark gorge just outside Hualien.

More than 50 people have been injured, with some trapped in buildings and tunnels around the city, the agency added.

Taiwanese chipmaking giant TSMC said it has evacuated some of its factories in Hsinchu and southern Taiwan for its staff's safety, but it added that its safety systems are operating normally. TSMC is a major producer of semiconductors for tech firms including Apple and Nvidia.

Apple supplier Foxconn did not immediately respond to BBC's request for comment.

Earlier, the earthquake set off tsunami warnings on the island and its neighbouring countries.

In Taipei, footage on local media outlets show collapsed residential buildings and people being evacuated from their homes and schools.

The impact of the earthquake has also smashed vehicles and thrown items inside stores in disarray, according to clips aired by local broadcaster TVBS.

 

Power cuts and internet outages have been reported across the island, according to internet monitoring group NetBlocks.

Wednesday's earthquake hit at 07:58 local time (23:58 GMT) at a depth of 15.5km and has set off at least nine aftershocks at magnitude 4 or larger.

The earthquake's epicentre is located about 18km south of Hualien, according to the US Geological Survey.

Hualien is located on Taiwan's east coast, in a sprawling, mountainous region. Cities in the area are sparsely populated. With major roads and rail lines connecting Hualien to the rest of Taiwan now down, rescue teams will likely have to enter the area by air.

In September 1999, a 7.6-magnitude earthquake hit Taiwan, killing 2,400 people and destroying 5,000 buildings.

In neighbouring Japan, authorities had earlier warned that tsunami waves of up to 3m were expected to reach large areas of its southwestern coast.

The Japan Meteorological Agency agency later downgraded the warning, but has asked residents to remain "vigilant for aftershocks with similar intensity" for about a week.

The Philippines' seismology agency also issued a tsunami warning shortly after the quake hit, urging residents to evacuate to higher ground - which it later cancelled.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said in an update about two hours after the quake hit that the tsunami threat "has now passed".

Chinese state media said tremors were felt in parts of China's south-eastern Fujian province.

Reader's Comments

LATEST STORIES

Tororo: Stalled projects ripping off the taxpayer
top-stories By David Ochieng
37 minutes ago
Tororo: Stalled projects ripping off the taxpayer
Rwandans in Uganda, friends reflect 30 years after genocide
top-stories By Julius Kitone
54 minutes ago
Rwandans in Uganda, friends reflect 30 years after genocide
Kalungu boss shakes up executive, says no room for negligence
news By Zainab Namusaazi Ssengendo
3 hours ago
Kalungu boss shakes up executive, says no room for negligence
Rwahi, where onions tickle the bank balance
top-stories By Alex Mugasha
4 hours ago
Rwahi, where onions tickle the bank balance